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Old 10-31-2012, 10:33 AM   #76
HowlingMad OP
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That morning a guy in a ranger hat who kept reminding me he wasn't a Ranger stopped to chat. I asked him about some of the dirt roads in the north of the park and he said I'd have to ask a ranger to see if the roads were open. They've had rain recently and ironically a place that only receives 2.36" of rain per year doesn't seem to know what to do with it. The rain wreaks havoc on everything when it comes and the more remote the road, the less likely it is to be open.

The problem is that the loop I wanted to do is about 200 miles, but if the road is closed, say 2/3 of the way through, I would have to backtrack and that could push the limits of my fuel range. That's to say nothing for extracting my bike by myself in the heat of Death Valley. The ranger who was not a Ranger left me with a comment that I couldn't get out of my head "I wouldn't do it, but how's your karma?"
I envisioned myself wandering the desert, wearing my helmet and nothing else having lost my mind due to heatstroke repeating the same phrase "How's your karma? How's your karma?"

I decided it was a good time to find out. I set out for The Racetrack, a geological phenomenon where stones, called sailing stones are pushed across the mud.


No one has ever witnessed them in motion and they only move every few years. The tracks last for years at a time. Oh, and there's about 30 miles of punishing washboard to get there. Sounds like a good time to me.




I made it to a designated campsite about 5 miles past the Racetrack and made camp.

I had only seen two people all day. There wasn't much hope of seeing anyone else tonight. Even though I had checked into a hotel for two days, I really didn't see anyone since I only left twice for food, the rest of my time was spent littering the floor with snot rags. It felt like a week since I had exchanged any conversation with anyone. I went to one of the most remote places I could find, and now I was feeling alone, lonely really. Gee, guess I should have seen that coming. It was a good time to reflect on the trip and why I was here, what I needed to get from it and how to achieve that. I'm hoping to bring the focus of my writing more towards that point and less on what I had for breakfast.

In the meantime, did you know that all the coolest GS guys at Starbucks are wearing whitewalls these days? It's all the rave.


Getting kicked out of my hotel room, so I'm afraid the interesting part of the adventure will have to wait a bit longer.

Preview of things to come:
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Old 10-31-2012, 10:53 AM   #77
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Subscribed. Don't get too lost out there or we'll all have to head out and find you.
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Old 10-31-2012, 01:22 PM   #78
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Check this RR for road conditions in DV
http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=815079
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Old 10-31-2012, 03:37 PM   #79
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Monks must beg

I entered Lake Havasu around 8pm last night with fond recollections of a road trip with my wife in 1999. I remember it the same way, warm night with lots of lights and the feeling of water nearby. I was looking forward to possibly spending another day here to catch up on blog posts and enjoy the warmth. A sign outside says ďBreakfast overlooking the lakeĒ, I proceed to into my hotel and seem to be the only one here. There are almost no other cars in the parking lot, inside is a somewhat rundown looking hotel that reminds me of the cold, impersonal one-star hotels I stayed in in India. The breakfast area is far less welcoming tucked in a corner and I chuckle thinking of the sign outside. A small Indian man, Mr. Patel tries to balance his cell phone conversation in Hindi with the burden of checking me in. Iím still in a good mood despite the less than warm feeling about security of leaving my bike outside. The three pawn shops across the street arenít a good sign. I further trouble Mr. Patel for a room with a better view of my bike. He seems annoyed. The business card stack at the counter reminds me this is his establishment. Hereís a little tip for the kids: if youíre not hospitable, donít go into the hospitality industry.

I find a Panda Express, highly recommended by my college sister-in-law. After an overdose of MSG I return to let the effects put me right to sleep without accomplishing any of my usual duties like sorting and posting pictures. I sleep well waking occasionally to check on the bike instead of coughing. Progress.

8am and I jump out of bed to hit snooze so I can return for another 30 minutes of sleep. Just as I get back under the covers the door opens without a knock and I yell and hear ďIíll come back later!Ē. Yeah, thanks. Had you been a few minutes earlier I would have had to charge you for the show. Albeit not much, but still. I realize that I really have no control over my domain, even in a hotel. Especially in a hotel.

I decide to get up and get started on my chores. Cleaning gear, helmet, etc. Putting clothes and all my gear back in bags in the meantime trying to sort pictures, video and get it all posted. Once posted I can begin to recount the adventures, emotions and trivial details from the previous three days. Checkout is at 11am, the race is on. At 10:30 I realize Iím not going to make a fraction of what Iíd like to post. A call to Mr. Patel to negotiate for a later checkout time was not received well, since Iím the only one here, theyíre anxious to clean my room. Aggravated, I push what I can to the web and race to honor the 11am checkout. At 10:45 I make the first of many runs to load my bike and realize I canít get back into my room. Mr Patel looks at the clock to see if he has an argument, but instead of resetting my card he walks with me down the hall to open my door. Thanks, but I have about 4 more loads, how do I get back in? He walks away. I prop the door and finish loading, annoyed.

Outside I call my wife since I didnít have time in the morning. She listens to me gripe and points out that Iím like a homeless person. Painfully accurate this morning, but hearing her makes up for it all.

I havenít even had time to look at the map and have a bike fully loaded and no direction at all. I decide to find a McDonalds to have a proper cup of coffee and find a direction.

In front of me at the counter is an old man in a peach shirt having an exchange with someoneís whoís sex Iím unable to identify and an oversized tie. Iím too late to figure out what she said to him, but I can feel it, and itís not good. She, he, it scolded this old man, at least 50 years older than her and I didnít like what I felt. I could see my sister leaning over the counter, grabbing that oversized tie and instructing her (?) to go forth and multiply herself. I realized that there might be more to the story and tried to let it go. I find a quiet corner where I can see the bike and slowly milk my $1.75 worth of rent. With the help of my wife by text, 2.5 hours later Iíve picked a point on the map almost randomly. Before I go, I run to the loo to return my coffee. While I'm in there the same old man in peach steps out of the penalty box and seems to be waiting for me. When I finish I proceed to wash my hands where he starts a conversation about god. Oh boy. I pretend to listen while feeling an urgency to leave. When he figures out Iím not buying whatever it is heís selling, he cuts to the chase and blurts out ďcan I have a ride?Ē

Politely, with a smile I explain Iím on a bike (guess he missed the Power Ranger outfit) and canít help him. He continues on something about Jesus and the closing door leaves him behind. I gather up my things and head out to the bike. It takes a few minutes to put things away and I see my friend outside headed for me. I keep packing. I turn around and heís in my space. For those who know me, you know this isnít a good place to be. I give him a look he seems to understand and takes a step back, but undeterred he starts rambling about seeing a Harley once and how much expensive they are. Next heís on to how he used to sell timeshares, al the while Iím going about my business of packing. Itís a delicate balance of being polite and respectful, while still being undeniable firm. Iím not sure I found that balance but I did let him know our conversation had ended.

Not three hours earlier I felt bad for this old man being, and now Iím thoroughly annoyed by him. As I got back on the road my mind started to replay the morning and how I could have such a change of heart. Just some homeless guy (who didnít look homeless) hustling people and loitering at McDonalds. Sounds an awful lot like me. We were both loitering, milking our time and the resources of McDonalds. The only real thing that separates the two of us is that he has a direction and no transportation, I have transportation and no direction. I spend the next hour being humbled by the experience. Monks spend time begging, perhaps to build humility. Perhaps I too need more of this.

I pull over at the first restaurant and spend almost two hours writing this down, just to make sure I donít lose track of this bit of humility. Donít think Iíll make Phoenix tonight after all.

Outside of Havasu, headed for Hope, AZ.
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Old 10-31-2012, 04:45 PM   #80
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Spinning a darn good yarn

Awesome stories. Keep living and telling.
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Old 10-31-2012, 05:51 PM   #81
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Nice read

Great update my friend.

Happy Halloween!

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Old 10-31-2012, 08:58 PM   #82
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Originally Posted by Nictrolis View Post
Subscribed. Don't get too lost out there or we'll all have to head out and find you.
Hey I remember you, we did a Cranberry Country Tour, right? Thanks for riding along.
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Old 10-31-2012, 09:02 PM   #83
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Great update my friend.

Happy Halloween!

I fit right in today. I stopped for a while tonight at McD's to leach some wifi and all the kids thought I had the coolest costume. The parents were yanking their kids away from the dirty looking vagrant so hard the kids had whiplash.

Looking forward to a little 450 ride when I get home. I'd love to know what the fully loaded GS weighs right now. A tad more than I'd like anyway.
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Old 10-31-2012, 09:04 PM   #84
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Awesome stories. Keep living and telling.
Great line from Shawshank Redemption talking about geology and life "it's just pressure and time".

"Gotta keep breathing." anyone know that one?
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Old 10-31-2012, 09:22 PM   #85
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HowlingMad View Post
Great line from Shawshank Redemption talking about geology and life "it's just pressure and time".

"Gotta keep breathing." anyone know that one?
Sounds like a line from a Woody Allen movie. Great RR, enjoy your writing.
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Old 10-31-2012, 09:44 PM   #86
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Death Valley, part duh

After setting up camp I decided to go exploring a bit. I had much more time than I'm used to, so I could afford a longer walk than Iíve had since I left. I noticed a very out of place yellow blob a ways out and grabbed the cameras.




It appeared to be an old mining outpost, probably from the early 1900ís based on the stone foundations. The site was littered with old cans, apparently a staple of whoever lived here. I wonder if they were as sick of canned food as I am of Lipton noodle mix. The yellow blob was what was left of a water tanker, probably 1950ís vintage.






Hopping down from the top of the tanker I managed to drop my camera, afraid itís time for retirement. All of my photos' now look like this:


The area was littered with debris, mostly rusted and shot up old pieces of steel from stove parts, cable, roof tins and unrecognizable bits.

I also found lots of dig sites, usually in the side of a hill where lots of light blue gravel had been excavated.



There are literally dozens of them in the area and I investigated several of them but could not work out what they were looking for here. Itís a significant effort to get here, let alone bring any equipment to dig so the reason must have been compelling.



(Please note; the following was written that night in camp and is somewhat redundant with other posts here, but it's the raw feelings of the day and I thought you deserved to be bored, twice.)



"I returned to camp not having seen a soul. From my vantage point on the hills I can see the road entering the playa (the dry lake that is the Racetrack) several miles away. Any vehicles on the road create a dust cloud that can been seen like smoke signals from miles away. The time was only 6:30 and I donít usually retire until 9:30 or later. What to do with my time? As I wandered around the camp looking for artifacts I realized that I was looking for signs of civilization, I was looking for signs of other humans. Although I did interact briefly at the visitorís center today, I really havenít been in any populated areas for three days. Even before that I had spent three days primitive camping. One would think that the two days I spent in between at a hotel would have recharged my social batteries, but it did not. I spent most of it in my hotel, only leaving twice in three days for food. Perhaps thatís why I feel lonely tonight. Itís not such a stretch I suppose knowing that no one comes out this far very often and it leaves me with a feeling of being very alone . Iím very much aware that a little fall, snake bite or other minor incident would have a major impact on me. The farther you get away from civilization the more careful you become about your actions. You realize that something as simple as a flat tire could easily be the end of someone out here. Iíd like to think that I could figure out how to handle most situations, hence the reason I keep putting myself in these situations, but the less frequently you see people, the less courageous you seem to get.



Itís fairly ironic that I deliberately chose one of the most desolate places on our continent and now would love to have the company of someone tonight. As a very distant second place, Iíd love to make a fire, but theyíre quite against it here for some reason. Strange since there isnít much to burn here. "



Note to self: double check boots every morning for rattly things.
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Old 10-31-2012, 10:29 PM   #87
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If you're in Death Valley, go to Saline Valley Hot Springs - it's more than worth your time. This is the time of year to go.
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Old 10-31-2012, 10:32 PM   #88
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Death Valley, day three

It was a cold start to the morning, when I finally decided to get up the sun had already reached the valley and it was still only 39. I made some oatmeal and coffee, neither were terribly satisfying but both did their job. As I started to clean up I realized that I was missing trash from the previous night. I have a system for dealing with stinky trash at camp if I can't burn it and I was sure of where I had placed the previous evening's wrapper. Strange. As I started to put things away I realized I was also missing the top to my JetBoil and I know where I left that too.

Now, in the desert with no wind, you hear everything at night, especially when you realize how far away you are from help. My ears were would have heard anything last night I thought, and yet some thief has come into my camp and robbed me. Yet there are no prints near my cases. I gave up my search and finish breaking camp. As I stood there brushing my teeth I see the black cover a ways away, next to it is the wrapper. Both have been scratched and picked to death. Crows are apparently very stealthy. I had a laugh about it and was happy to have my cover back.

I had been on the fence about which direction to take to get out. On one hand I could go back the way I came where everything was familiar, or I could go the way I originally wanted which was listed as much more aggressive road in the park map. (very handy, btw) In fact it wasn't until I got to a place called "tea kettle junction" and stopped to look at my map I made my choice. There was a white 4x4 there with an older man and his wife. I didn't think he had come from the direction I wanted to go, but was surprised when he offered information on the road. (Book by it's cover again) He said the the road I wanted to take was worse than the one I took yesterday and that he turned around at the first mountain pass because it was too narrow. Something about this exchange actually made me feel more comfortable and I started on the new path without any more concern.

What my friend forgot to tell me was that the first several miles were very loose gravel followed by short periods of deep sand. Sadly with a dead camera I was only able to capture some video and these few pictures from my phone:









Well as it turns out the track was some of the most fun riding I've had yet and I was sad to finally be back on blacktop. You'll have to wait for the video, but it's amazing where these bikes can take us.

One last detail, although all I have is a screencap of him, I spotted this little guy on the way back to Furnace Creek. I think it's a coyote but I'm not sure. He wasn't aggressive, but he wasn't too afraid of me either. Cute little guy.

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Old 10-31-2012, 10:34 PM   #89
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Current location: Tempe, AZ. Headed for Tuscon area next then continuing east. About 4200 miles on the clock so far.
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Old 11-01-2012, 04:49 AM   #90
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"Gotta keep breathing." anyone know that one?
Tom Hanks Castaway!

Enjoy your day today.
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